Organizers reject criticism of U.N. financial summit

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Western diplomats are accusing the leftist former Nicaraguan foreign minister who heads the U.N. General Assembly of hijacking an upcoming U.N. summit on the financial crisis to put capitalism on trial, an allegation his spokesman on Tuesday flatly rejected.

Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe (L) embraces Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, President of the 63rd United Nations General Assembly, after addressing the assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Diplomats from the so-called Group of 20 large developed and developing economies criticized U.N. General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann and called the June 24-26 summit a “joke,” a “tragedy” and a “waste of time.”

The five G20 diplomats who spoke to Reuters about the summit all declined to be quoted by name. They said the U.N. meeting, which is supposed to focus on the impact the financial crisis has had on the developing world, would instead be used as a platform for speakers who want to attack capitalism.

D’Escoto’s spokesman Enrique Yeves rejected this, saying, “These criticisms are not justified, they are not fair.”

In a recent interview with Britain’s Financial Times newspaper, D’Escoto accused industrialized states of attempting to sabotage the summit and said the British Foreign Office was trying to divide him and his advisers, one of whom is Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist.

D’Escoto, who is expected to be succeeded in the largely ceremonial U.N. post by former Libyan foreign minister Ali Triki in September, has managed to annoy many Western delegations since taking office last year.

D’Escoto has invited the leaders of all 192 U.N. member states to attend the summit at U.N. headquarters in New York. Western diplomats said few, if any, leaders from Western developed economies will show up.


U.N. officials and diplomats said leftists including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega may attend.

Yeves said he expected “a very strong presence of African and Latin American” leaders but acknowledged that a three-week postponement meant some leaders might not be able to come.

D’Escoto, who served as foreign minister in Nicaragua’s Sandinista government throughout the 1980s, repeatedly has attacked the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush as well as Israel. He also has also criticized the administration of Bush’s successor Barack Obama, accusing it of “demonizing” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

One of D’Escoto’s senior economic advisers, Michael Clark, told Reuters it was not surprising that members of the G20 -- a club that includes the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Russia and developing powers like China, India and Brazil -- were criticizing the summit.

He added that it was important to have another forum to discuss the financial crisis since the G20 could not be expected to come up with long-term reform solutions.

“They’re not likely to (fix things), at least in the way that is optimal for the global economy,” Clark said, adding that the value of the U.N. summit is that all 192 member states can participate, unlike the April G20 summit in London.

Clark said the issues they will focus on include “recapitalizing the (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank, redefining their mandates, expanding their surveillance function. These are pretty important, very large issues.”

Editing by Will Dunham